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Repression without rules: more than 15 people from the sports field are behind bars

2023 2023-09-29T17:42:51+0300 2023-10-02T14:51:21+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

In 2015, UNESCO declared access to sport as a fundamental right of every person. However, in practice, people behind bars are not just deprived of this right: it has turned out to be another method of applying pressure by the authorities, when impossible conditions are created for any, even minimal physical activity.

September 30 is the Day of Sports Solidarity. Therefore, today we have prepared a text about athletes, coaches, and people from the sports field who are now behind bars for their position.

Support for the families of political prisoners of Belarusian athletes and sports representatives

Here you can support politically imprisoned athletes to express solidarity.

We emphasize that by pursuing athletes, they are also deprived of the opportunity to train in order to keep themselves in a good professional shape, so they lose their professional qualities. Former political prisoners emphasize that they have to recover physically and psychologically for a long time after their imprisonment and start learning exercises from scratch. This prevents them from continuing their sports career even after leaving places of incarceration, even if they have spent several months there.

Sports in custody: how the right turned into a method of pressure

Viasna asked people who were arrested to tell what conditions for sports were during their imprisonment.


Rastsislau Stefanovich 

Rastsislau Stefanovich

An architect, a player of the Minskie Zubry American football team. Detained on September 29, 2020, he was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony.

Dzianis Marusevich

Dzianis Marusevich

An athlete from Brest, a master of Karate, hand-to-hand combat, and army hand-to-hand combat. He was a member of the national karate team. Dzianis was detained on September 11, 2020 and imprisoned for four years in a medium-security penal colony. He is 25 years old, 19 of which he had been engaged in sport. Dzianis started with acrobatics.

Yuryi Tserashkevich

Former goalkeeper of FC Granit. He was detained on January 10, 2022 and sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a general security penal colony.

Andrei Tsypak

A handball player. Previously, he played in the Brest Miashkou handball club. From 2020 to 2021, he worked at MTS telephone company, and at that time, according to the security forces, he transferred the data of several prosecutors and government officials to a protest initiative. Tsypak's former cellmate told human rights defenders that Andrei was severely beaten during his detention.

 Aliaksandr Sharabaika

A well-known bodybuilder from Hlybokaje. The court sentenced Aliaksandr to one year and six months in prison for "insulting Lukashenko". Taking into account the fact that Aliaksandr was held in a pre-trial detention center for several months, he has to serve about eight months.


Mikalai Vasilevich

A coach and masseur of the national biathlon team; he worked at the Raubichi Republican Olympic Training Center for Winter Sports. He was sentenced to 9.5 years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony, as well as a fine of 22 200 roubles.

Vadzim Chapialevich

A children's coach of FC Dynamo Brest. He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in a general security penal colony under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code. At first he was a defender of Kobryn team, and then he tried to move to Dynamo Brest, but got a knee injury. He had worked with a group of boys born in 2009-10 until his arrest: the parents of the players were delighted with his work. Vadzim also arranged additional guided tours and other team activities for the children.

Pavel Aucharou

A coach; he practiced Aikido and graduated from Belarusian State University of Physical Culture. Detained on October 8, 2020. He was sentenced to 6.5 years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony. He is involved in a criminal case initiated after a protest action on September 23, 2020, when Aliaksandr Lukashenka was inaugurated in Minsk. He and his friend Huseinau were found guilty of calling for participation in mass riots, which were planned in advance under the guise of mass events, and blocking transport communications.

Aleh Haurylau

A fitness coach from Salihorsk, sentenced to ten years in prison in a high-security penal colony. Detained with copies of Chestnaya Gazeta. He was found guilty of inciting hatred committed by a group of persons (Part 3 of Article 130), desecration of buildings, and damage to property (Article 341).

Aleh Shvaiko

A football coach who was sentenced to two years in prison in a general security colony. It is known that Aleh Shvaiko worked with the women's team at the Minsk football club and expressed his active position on the events in Belarus in 2020. In October 2022, Shvaiko signed a contract with the Vasileuski private football school. The Minsk organization introduced its new coach on social media on October 20, just a couple of weeks before his detention.

Aliaksei Hritskevich

A fitness coach from Niasvizh, who was sentenced to two years in prison in a general security penal colony.

Siarhei Zaikouski

A 60-year-old football coach from Bialynichy. He graduated from the Mahileu Pedagogical Institute with a degree in physical education. He worked at a school in Bialynichy. In his spare time, he went camping with the children, trained with them for free, since there were no youth schools in the city.

Dzmitryi Beliamuk

An athlete from Brest, he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in a general security colony. The man was detained in mid-February 2023 for his comments.

Besides coaches and athletes, there are other professional from the sports world behind bars: primarily, journalists and lawyers.

Ivan Kotau

A candidate master of sports in powerlifting. Ivan runs his own sports news YouTube channel called VlogIKa. On February 27, 2023, the court sentenced Ivan to three years and six months of imprisonment in a general security penal colony.

Aliaksandr Danilevich

A sports lawyer, a СAS referee, detained on May 20, 2022, imprisoned for ten years in a medium-security penal colony. Since 2010 he had been deputy chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the National Anti-Doping Agency of the Republic of Belarus, and in 2012 he was included in the Anti-Doping Appeal Council under the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus. He was the chairman of the Belarusian Rugby Federation and a member of the legal committee of the International Rugby Europe Association.

Dzmitryi Selvestruk

The author of the Serebrianyi Vek. Football of Belarus Telegram channel and ex-employee of Narodnaya Hazeta. Right now he is being tried under Part 1 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (promotion of extremist activity). He was detained in May 2023.

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